Shocking news broke Thursday that the handoff of the $400 million cash payment to Iran was a highly coordinated endeavor and did not occur until the American hostages were safe. These new details lend farther evidence to the argument that the cash was a ransom payment. But when it came to reporting this development the “Big Three” networks barely gave it anytime at all. Combined they gave the story two minutes, one second on their evening news programs. In stark contrast, the networks gave a whopping 13 minutes, 33 seconds to the lies told by the members of the U.S. Olympic swim team.
New details also broke Thursday in the story of Ryan Lochte’s tale of being robbed at gun point by men disguised as Brazilian police. It came out that Lochte had lied, and in reality him and some other swimmers had gotten drunk, vandalized a gas station bathroom, and were questioned by an officer. Now he and the swimmers he was with are facing possible prosecution in Brazil for lying to authorities.
Out of all of the networks, ABC dedicated the most time to the drunken swimmers with five minutes, 56 seconds. They also gave the cash handoff the least amount of time with a mere 25 seconds. “For the first time today, calling the cash, quote, “leverage,” in the prisoner exchange,” reported anchor David Muir in a brief on World News Tonight, “The cash came from Iranian money frozen by U.S. authorities after the Iranian revolution, but the administration still denies that that cash was ransom.”
The broadcaster of the Olympics, NBC, was almost on par with ABC with five minutes, 20 seconds spent on the lies told by Lochte and 28 seconds on the Iran handoff revelations. Anchor Lester Holt seemed on defense during his brief on NBC Nightly News, “But officials insist the United States returning that Iranian money, from a decades-old account, was conducted separately from the negotiations over the detainees and the U.S. did not pay a ransom.”
CBS Evening News actually spent the least amount of time on the swimmers and the most time on the handoff, two minutes, 17 seconds and one minute, eight seconds respectively. “What we know is that a plane loaded with Swiss francs and euros took off from a Geneva airport January 17 at the same time that a plane carrying the prisoners departed Tehran,” reported Margaret Brennan. Anchor Scott Pelley seemed to write off all of the commotion saying, “And all of this was a side deal to the nuclear agreement as well.”
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World News Tonight
August 18, 2016
6:43:54 PM Eastern [25 Seconds]
DAVID MUIR: Next tonight, the State Department addressing that cash payment to Iran at the same time as Iran released those American prisoners. The state department saying the cash happened simultaneously with the release of those prisoners. But for the first time today, calling the cash, quote, “leverage,” in the prisoner exchange. The cash came from Iranian money frozen by U.S. authorities after the Iranian revolution, but the administration still denies that that cash was ransom.
August 18, 2016
6:39:53 PM Eastern [1 Minute 8 Seconds]
SCOTT PELLEY: Today, for the first time, the State Department acknowledged there was a link between a $400 million cash pay to Iran and the release of four American prisoners. Republicans call that ransom, but the administration denies it. Margaret Brennan, our state department correspondent, is with us tonight. Margaret?
MARGARET BRENNAN: Scott. Well the administration now admits that they held on to the cash until it was clear that the prisoners had left Iran. But U.S. officials still deny that this was ransom because the money was owed to Iran as part of a failed arms deal 35 years ago. What we know is that a plane loaded with Swiss francs and euros took off from a Geneva airport January 17 at the same time that a plane carrying the prisoners departed Tehran. The planes crisscrossed in the sky. Today, the administration admitted to the link because they said they wanted maximum leverage fearing Iran would renege. Many Republicans say that’s clearly a ransom payment to a state sponsor of terrorism. And Scott they accuse President Obama of lying when he insisted just a few weeks ago that the US doesn’t pay ransom.
PELLEY: And all of this was a side deal to the nuclear agreement as well.
August 18, 2016
7:22:48 PM Eastern [28 Seconds]
LESTER HOLT: The State Department acknowledged today that a $400 million cash payment to Iran was contingent on the release of American detainees. The U.S. withheld the cash until the four U.S. citizens were safely out of Iran. But officials insist the United States returning that Iranian money, from a decades-old account, was conducted separately from the negotiations over the detainees and the U.S. did not pay a ransom. Both of those events happened on the same day, January 17th.